‘Emperor’ walks out on media
By Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Bad news is getting on the nerves of the “Emperor.”
Gen. Delfin Bangit, newly appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, walked out on a media interview Monday when he was asked about the reported tension between him and Director General Jesus Verzosa of the Philippine National Police.
A TV reporter told him it appeared that he and Verzosa were not talking during the ceremony marking the Philippine Army’s 113th anniversary at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.
“That’s what is hard, (if) you don’t say anything, you are wrong, (and when) you say something, you are still wrong, so my PIO will take care of everything,” said Bangit, who used the code-name “Emperor” when he was chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP).
Bangit, who was being interviewed after the celebration attended by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then abruptly walked away to a waiting car.
In a recent interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer editors and reporters, Verzosa said he would not support Bangit should he attempt to keep Ms Arroyo in office in the event of a failure of the May 10 elections.
But Bangit and Verzosa sought to dispel such speculation on Friday when the AFP chief of staff went to Camp Crame national police headquarters to discuss with the PNP chief security matters related to the elections.
Bangit, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1978 which adopted Ms Arroyo as an honorary member, was a junior of Verzosa at the PMA.
Later at Camp Aguinaldo, Bangit expressed displeasure over the media for what he said were attempts to sow divisiveness in the military for “business” purposes.
“What is coming out in the news is not good anymore. Our people are fearing something that should not be feared,” he told reporters after meeting with officials of the PMA Alumni Association Inc.
“I feel that you are smiling when there is a misunderstanding among our soldiers,” Bangit said. “I hope you stop this because there is no truth to what is being said in the newspapers, radio and the television.”
Bangit was Ms Arroyo’s senior aide de camp when she was the Vice President and was chief of the Presidential Security Group during three coup attempts against her. In one widely publicized event, Bangit strewed peso bills during a Christmas party when he was ISAFP chief.
Generals belonging to the PMA class of 1977 and 1978 occupying key positions in the AFP dismissed speculation of a military takeover should a power vacuum ensue.
Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, Eastern Mindanao commander, told reporters that he was certain of a transfer of power by June 30 and that the possibility of a military junta was a mere “imagination” by government critics. “I believe that,” he said.
Loyal to Constitution
Ferrer has said no one was applauding the recent appointment of Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu as Philippine Army chief but that he was not questioning the promotion.
Last week, Malacañang spokesperson Charito Planas raised the possibility of a military junta if there would be no president, vice president, Senate president or House Speaker to assume power on June 30 at the end of Ms Arroyo’s term.
“We don’t like that,” said Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban, Marine commandant. “The military will follow orders so whatever rumors that are circulating, they remain to be rumors and speculations.”
When asked if he shared Verzosa’s sentiment, Sabban replied, “All of us will not follow illegal orders.”
He said he supported calls of the PMA alumni association on its members both active and retired to help ensure the integrity of the elections.
“We are one with them,” Sabban said. “I assure everybody, even our people, that nothing will happen and we will be there to see to it that everything is legal and that the Constitution will be followed.”
Mapagu said there was no discussion among officers of a government takeover. “There is no scenario of that kind in the horizon and we are not discussing it because it is not going to happen.”